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Friday, April 28, 2006

Movie Review

United 93
Dir. Paul Greengrass
R for Language, violence
* * * * *
Upon entering the Holocuast musuem in Washington, I was given a card with a person's name on it, as a more personal way to intepret the relics of horror and sadness inside. In a similar way, Greengrass has made a memorial of the morning of 9/11. Buying a ticket I had to say I was buying a ticket for "united 93," and saying those words caught me by surprise, as it sounded like I was buying a plane ticket. It was a crowded show for a friday morning. An ecletic group. It was intersting to find the parallels between entering a plane and a movie theater. I think that Greengrass had this in mind. While he leaves Flight 93 to show those on the ground, we are still on the plane. The unkown and often nonprofessional actors, some playing themselves, the documentary style camera and editing, the sparse music, all add to a hightened level of realism.
The film is not a peice of exploitation, nor is it a statement of God Bless America. This is a great existential film. We know that it is abusrd for those passengars to try and retake the plane, because we know they will die. But it is the getting there that matters. They fight against fear, despair. Forty strangers become tied at the soul, and even though we know little about them, we become tied to them as well, as they defeat their own terrorism. There film does nothing to show what happens after the plan crashes. Greengrass isn't making a film about the impact of 9/11. But how on the morning of 9/11, through a story like this, we came face to face with some of the most extreme situations, and dealt with them in a surprisingly noble and heroic fashion.
The film is intense. While it is subtle, it builds upon layers of it's own anxiety, of it's characters, of us as an audience. The last 5 minutes are some of the most intense I've experienced in a film, and found that I was shaking even after the film ended. The film's finale begs us to look inward, at ourselves, and at the others in the theater. In that sense, Greengrass has done what few directors are able to do. Motivate their audience to look inward and be better people. If there is a better film this year, then it will be a great year for movies, but I highly doubt there will be.

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